SUSSEX’S police chief has called on forces nationally to improve the way they treat gay and transgender officers and to root out sexual prejudice in their ranks.

Chief constable Giles York told a policing conference yesterday that forces need more LGBT officers and warned against prejudice becoming “discriminatory practice”.

Mr York, who joined Sussex Police in 2008, questioned why so many officers felt they could not ‘come out’ at work and said police were “not balanced yet” on the issue.

He urged delegates at the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSA) to understand what it feels like to be an “other” in society and “once you have got it personally, drive it organisationally”.

He said: “We have to become an employer of choice for all sorts of people.”

Mr York said gay communities had historically been “hounded” by the policing of public sex environments, adding: “We still have prejudices today and I think the learning we need to do on this is how we don’t let them boil through into discriminatory behaviour.”

His speech at a conference session about LGBT officers and policing came as the PSA said some senior police officers worried that coming out might impact their career prospects, and that homophobia still existed in some policing teams. Mr York recalled how he had led the Brighton Pride march in 2008.

Sussex Police said about 5% (266 people) of its 5,800 staff and officers identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual in the latest report and the force had been recognised as one of the top 100 employers in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

Rich Bridger, LGBT liaison officer for Brighton and Hove, said he had not known any Sussex Police officers to experience hostility as a result of coming out, including himself.